A Federal Court Ruled Against the Contraceptive Mandate. Here’s What Happens Next.
The U.S. District Court for Colorado on Friday blocked the Obama administration from requiring an air-conditioning company in Colorado to provide no co-pay contraceptives to its employees, as the Affordable Care Act directs.
It was, as Sam Baker points out, the first time a federal court has ruled against that provision of the health-care law.
It’s not yet, however, exactly a victory for the contraceptive mandate’s opponents: The injunction is specific to that one company, and it holds only until the judge can reach a verdict on the case’s merits. Still, it could mark the start of a long period of litigation involving one of the health-care law’s most polarizing provisions.
Hercules v. Sebelius is a case brought by Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based air-conditioning company. The four siblings who own the business say they oppose contraceptives — such medications are not included in their current health coverage plan — and “seek to run Hercules in a manner that reflects their sincerely-held religious beliefs.”
The health-care law’s required coverage of contraceptives without co-pay is slated to come into effect next week, on Aug. 1. Religious institutions that primarily serve individuals of their own faith got a one-year reprieve. Hercules, as an air-conditioning company, did not fall into that category.
Hercules is challenging the birth control mandate as a First Amendment violation, inhibiting its ability to practice religion freely. The company also argues that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, a law from the 1990s that is meant to afford greater legal protection to religious institutions from federal requirements that “substantially burden” their ability to practice religion.